We take a look at the Dakine DLX pickup to see if it’s worth the scratch…
Words: Toni Walbridge
Photos: Toni Walbridge
If you’re one of those riders throwing an old moving blanket over the tailgate of your pickup, you might already be questioning the value of paying over a hundred bucks for pickup pad. Just the same, Dakine has offered for your consideration the $140 MSRP DLX pickup pad. Full disclosure, I went out and paid retail with my own hard earned money for this item. There are a couple particular reasons why I decided to pick one up. I did already own a perfectly good basic pickup pad but there were a few shortcomings that really needed to be addressed. Did I mention my friends who are deeply concerned about even the faintest imperfection on their highly polished rides? It may be also submitted into evidence, my occasional to near constant heavy right foot while shuttling. All to often, afternoon shuttles resulted in scratched up bikes, leading to a bit of drama and sadness. But lets face it, we work hard and pay big bucks for our bikes and would much rather scratch them up on our own terms than have our transport system trash them.
To combat bike damage the DLX pad offers a few upgrades over the standard pad. Probably the most significant is the addition of 7 straps at the top of the tailgate to secure bikes from moving around. The velcro straps grab each bike’s down tube and do a solid job of keeping them from winding up in a pile to one side of the bed. The DLX also bumps the number of straps that hold the pad in place on the tailgate from 3 to 4 to help keep the pad in place under the forces the bikes generate. In the large size we tested, Dakine has added 2″ overall width over the basic pad, increasing it to 62″ wide to better fit modern pickup beds. All this adds up to more space between bikes and almost zero shifting, even after a couple throttle heavy pulls through the whoops and pot holes of our shuttle test hill.
Another functional upgrade that the DLX offers is the addition of an extra large flap in the center of the pad that can be secured open. This allows not only allow access to the tailgate handle but also prevents the pad from obscuring a backup camera. It sure was nice to get my camera back as it is rather handy for sliding the truck into those parallel spots better probably better suited for a Smart Car. Even with 4 bikes on the back and wheels hanging over the camera, I still generally still had enough view for the feature to be useful.
Beyond the upgrades included in the DLX over the standard pad, I rather quite like using pickup pads over traditional racks in certain situations. For one, it’s tough to beat the ease of use and simplicity of a pickup pad, it takes about 30 seconds to load a tailgate full of bikes. Another major benefit is clearance. With the bikes barely hanging out behind the truck, departure angles are maintained and its therefore easier to negotiate technical offload terrain without dragging bikes. It’s also a whole lot less likely that you’ll to back your bikes into a stationary object when they barely stick out past the bumper. The biggest drawback? Probably the potential for damage to your bike’s down tube. On a muddy day, dirt can eat right through your paint job in a hurry if you don’t have protective film on your bike. I have also seen a little scuffing to the paint on my tailgate when the pad was left on for extended periods of time despite the soft fleece padding on the underside. I have generally been able to buff out the damage but there’s certainly some wear going on.
At $140, the Dakine DLX pickup pad is a fair chunk of coin for a tailgate pad but not much at all compared to almost any other bike transport option. There’s not really not much left to want for. It would be great if someone could figure out a way to protect the bike down tubes but other than that, if you have a pickup, this pad hauls bikes without much fuss or worry. In the case of shuttle days, more runs = more better and not having to tip-toe up the hill to keep bikes from getting messed up is worth its weight in gold. If you’re in the market for a pickup pad and are on the fence, I highly recommend the Dakine DLX.
All the Details
MSRP – 140.00 ($20 more than the basic pickup pad)
Padded 1000D Polyester outer shell and fleece lined
Individual bike anchor straps (7 on the large, 5 on the small)
Colors: Any color you want as long as it is black
Sizes: 54” wide Small for compact pickups and 62″ Large for full-size pickups
4 straps hold the pad tight to the tailgate (noted some slipping until I really cranked it down)
Large access flap for tailgate handles and rear-view cameras
Lockable grommets to secure your pad from being swiped
Dakine says it works best on new tailgate designs